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With family law matters in the Family Courts and Federal Circuit Courts facing record delays of up to three or four years, the Law Society is urging solicitors to consider using mediation via the Family Law Settlement Service (FLSS).

The FLSS is a mediation program specifically designed to help solicitors resolve family disputes already before the courts. It’s a joint initiative of the Law Society, the Family Law Courts and the NSW Bar Association. “Drawn out litigation is not good for anyone and some families are languishing for years to resolve their disputes in the Family Law Courts,” said Society President Doug Humpreys. 

“The Law Society is campaigning hard for the appointment of more judges to ease the significant delays and backlog of cases. Regrettably, the problem is so great that it cannot be solved with the appointment of more judges alone.” More than 62 per cent of the 89 matters referred to FLSS in the past six months have been either fully or partially settled. 

“These statistics make it clear that court lists are being needlessly clogged up with matters that could be settled promptly,” Humpreys said. The Law Society is increasing its presence in courts throughout NSW, starting at Parramatta, to provide advice to solicitors about the FLSS. 

The FLSS enables solicitors to access a panel of distinguished mediators, who are also family law solicitors and barristers, ready to take on family property and family parenting cases, state-wide and without delays. Matters involving a parenting dispute are referred to panellists who are also Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners.

“By referring more appropriate property and parenting disputes to mediation, we will free up time and resources for more onerous cases to be determined by a court,” Humpreys said. 

“The benefits for clients are undoubted. They avoid the hefty costs, uncertainty and delays of prolonged court action. Better and more durable outcomes are likely when clients are involved in the justice process.”